The dog’s eye is a delicate structure susceptible to insults. In this article, I, Ivana Crnec, DVM, will explain the causes, symptoms, and treatments for dog eye swelling.

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  1. Why Is My Dog's Eye Swollen
  2. Dog Eye Swollen and Shut or Red
  3. How to Treat Swollen Eyes in Dogs
  4. FAQs
  5. Conclusion

Why Is My Dog's Eye Swollen

A swollen dog eye is an inflamed eye and it is because of conjunctivitis (inflammation of the thin membrane covering the surface of the eye) or blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids).

Studies explain that the most "common causes of blepharitis and conjunctivitis include infection, immune-mediated disease, allergic dermatitis, and neoplasia."

Another frequent cause is foreign objects.


Eye infections are caused by bacteria (brucellosis, leptospirosis), viruses (distemper, herpes, influenza), tick-borne diseases (Lyme disease, canine ehrlichiosis), and parasites (eye worms).

Immune-Mediated Diseases

Sometimes, the dog’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own tear glands, affecting their ability to produce tears. This results in a specific type of inflammation known as dry eyes.


Eye swelling and inflammation can result from airborne irritants, such as pollen, dust, cigarette smoke, scented candles, and strong perfumes.


Eye tumors in dogs usually stem from the eyelids. The most common types are adenoma, which is benign, and adenocarcinoma, which is malignant.

Foreign Objects

Dogs often get foreign bodies stuck in the eye, causing inflammation and swelling. Grass awns such as foxtails and cheatgrass are the top most common foreign eye objects.

It is impossible to constantly monitor your dog. The Petcube Pet Camera, however, helps with supervision when you are not home.

Dog Eye Swollen and Shut or Red

Eye swelling is a telltale inflammation sign and is accompanied by redness. Other symptoms to look for include:

  • Excessive blinking
  • Pawing at the eye
  • Squinting
  • Keeping the eye closed
  • Epiphora (increased tearing)
  • Eye discharge
  • Light sensitivity

Flushing the dog’s eyes with sterile saline solution is safe as first aid, but veterinary attention is essential.

In an article for Spruce Pets, Adrienne Kruzer, RVT, says, "If one or both of your dog's eyes are swollen, call your veterinarian immediately."

How to Treat Swollen Eyes in Dogs

When treating swollen eyes in dogs, it's essential to use an appropriate eye cleaner to gently remove any debris and soothe irritation.

Broad-spectrum antibiotics are the golden standard for treating eye inflammation in dogs, says a 2016 study. Antibiotics are used orally or topically in the form of eye drops and ointments.

Steroids or non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications are prescribed in some cases to relieve the inflammation and swelling.

Managing the trigger depends on the underlying cause and goes from antihistamines for allergic conjunctivitis to surgery for serious traumatic injuries.

Eye conditions can be expensive. Investing in the Petcube Emergency Fund is a smart move because it covers up to $3,000 in vet bills and provides 24/7 access to online vets. Use this link to redeem a 27% discount gift on the Fund.


Why Is My Dog’s Eye Swollen and Red?

Your dog’s eye is swollen and red because of something as simple as irritation to as complex as cancer. Seeing the vet is imperative when dealing with eye issues.


The causes of a swollen dog’s eye range from mild to severe. A prompt veterinary care is critical for reducing swelling and protecting vision.

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